Dine In or Dine Out: Which Best Suits Your Lifestyle?

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

It’s a general rule of frugal living that it’s cheaper to eat at home. Dining in restaurants or at fast-food places costs more because you’re not only paying for the food but for the establishment’s overhead and profit. While we know it’s hard on our budget to dine out, there are a multitude of reasons why we do:

  • Convenience — When you’re on the go, it’s often the only option.
  • Time/schedule — It takes some time investment to prepare meals at home.
  • Cooking ability — When you don’t know how to cook, it’s an unrealistic expectation.
  • Food preferences — Preparing certain foods (just the way we like them) is sometimes beyond the purview of home cooks.
  • Celebration — Dining out is often a celebratory experience, considered more special than eating at home.

Those are valid reasons for dining out and if we don’t overindulge in the privilege, these culinary treats can and should be included in our budgets so we don’t feel deprived.

It’s easy for those who enjoy cooking to espouse the benefits of preparing meals at home to save on food expenses. The fact is, however, that doesn’t describe everyone. It begs this question at it’s core, “Do you spend time to save money – or spend money to save time?” Each individual must answer this for him or herself.

When determining whether cooking at home is a realistic means for you to save money, consider these factors:

  • Personal taste — How open-minded are you when it comes to food? Do you appreciate the ability you have as a home cook to grill your burger to your own specifications and add your own selection of condiments, or is a burger just not a burger unless it comes from the diner down the block?

Conversely, do you love a pricey dish at a restaurant but aren’t wiling or able to have it as often as you’d like? Purchasing the raw ingredients and making that dish at home will enable you to enjoy your favorite dish more often at a fraction of the price.

  • Cooking ability — Are you simply a disaster in the kitchen? If you experience stage fright at the stove, consider cooking classes or ask someone to teach you to prepare a couple simple dishes to cook to help you feel more confident in the kitchen.
  • Willingness to try — If the mere thought of cooking turns you off, there’s no sense putting yourself under undue stress just to save a few bucks.

If you are willing to branch out and expand your home cooking skills, start slowly with a simple recipe for a dish you know and like. Make it the first time exactly according to the recipe, then once you taste your creation, note what changes might improve it (more garlic, less oregano…). Soon you’ll have your own version of a dish you’ll enjoy every time because you’ll have customized it to your particular taste.

Some dedicated cooks try their hand at a homemade version of a dish simply out of curiosity. To these people, the time and effort is justified because cooking has transcended eating and has become a hobby.

  • Time — Do you have (or are you willing and able to find) the time to cook at home? Yes, it is cheaper to keep you stomach full from your own kitchen but is that a realistic goal for you and your lifestyle? Only you can answer that in relation to your own circumstances.

Cooking at home can be a significant way to cut your expenses, but only if you have the time, inclination and lifestyle to make it happen.

Bonus Tip:

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